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Exclusive FMCG jobs market update – December

jobsChristmas spending is set to disappoint according to the Westpac Consumer Sentiment Index, with the index falling by 1.1 per cent in November.

Of the respondents surveyed, 34 per cent plan to “spend less”, 52 per cent “the same” and only 14 per cent said “more” than last year.

In comparison to previous years, the sentiment in the lead-in to Christmas 2016 is average. NSW respondents were most conservative, while spending plans are higher in Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia.

Despite the softening in consumer sentiment we are seeing lots of activity in the job market:

  1. There is a high demand for niche supply chain project skills. We have noticed an increase in demand for network optimisation and analytical skills, which has resulted in a sudden shortage of this talent. Due to this, FMCG companies are scrambling to access top talent with these skills. Largely the trend is a result of pressure from retailers and a subsequent need to gain efficiencies and cut costs.
  2. A shift in category management. The scope of a marketing category manager’s role is evolving. Given they have a thorough understanding of customer insights we have found them transitioning, rather seamlessly, into senior sales roles. We have also noticed an increase of those with an agency background moving into the role which means category talent has become more available than 12 months ago.
  3. A decline in brand management roles. There has been a surprising shift in the lack ofactivity for brand managers in FMCG. On the organisational side, we are finding many of our clients holding off until the New Year to recruit these roles. On the talent side, there has been increasing interest from brand managers to look outside FMCG at education and services sectors. Due to this, we are predicting a shortfall in brand management talent in the second half of next year.
  4. A major focus on optimising the production process. Continuous improvement (CI) skills such as Lean and Six Sigma are seen as essential in the optimisation process, from concept, to production, to delivery. This trend has remained strong and does not show signs of demand decreasing in the immediate future. Anyone who has CI skills, and especially people who have led large scale CI projects, are in high demand and will remain to be into the foreseeable future.
  5.  The Advantage Report, a key indicator of performance. Increasingly clients are utilising the information from the Advantage Report to drive stronger relationships with retailers. Too often KPIs between suppliers and retailers have been misaligned which has caused a disconnect in the perception of supply chain performance. Some businesses have completely revised their KPIs to ensure improved performance matches improved customer service.
  6. Organisations looking to fresh talent to gain a competitive advantage in 2017. Traditionally, we notice a trough in recruitment during December and January. However, this year we have found some of our FMCG clients taking the opposite approach to their talent strategy, by proactively recruiting key roles before Christmas (with the exception of brand marketers). This strategy takes advantage of increased levels of seasonal talent activity over this period, which we see year after year. The benefits are two pronged; more top talent available with less competition and starting the New Year with a full complement in place.

Alastair Pennie is the Associate Director – Supply Chain & Engineering NSW for Six Degrees Executive, a specialist recruitment consultancy providing talent solutions within the FMCG space.

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